The dumbening deepens: Schools next for international student boom

By Leith van Onselen

In 2016, the Turnbull Government implemented a new visa enabling international primary school students and their guardians to access Australian schools and purchase Australian property ahead of achieving permanent residency (see here, here and here).

At the time, I labelled this “one of the worst policies that I have ever seen”, since it would exacerbate already chronic over-crowding across Australia’s school system, would make housing even less affordable, and would add further strains on economic and social infrastructure across the major cities.

Over the weekend, the Murdoch tabloids reported that the federal government was aggressively marketing Australia’s school system at roadshows across China:

Australian schools are being touted in a government-run roadshow across China.

The schools “showcase”, which will travel to as many as five Chinese cities, will promote primary and secondary schools as pathways to Australian universities…

Documents reveal the federal government plans to run a series of workshops and seminars to spruik the nation’s school system in a bid to bolster Chinese student numbers…

Experts from Australia and China will also meet to discuss ways they can better recognise learning and qualifications across the two nations to improve international student and worker mobility…

Monash University senior lecturer David Zyngier said the roadshow was “quite clearly about the money” brought in by international students…

“They’re looking to gain entry to universities here because they know they’ll get permanent residency and then go on to buy property here,” he said.

But he said many Chinese students who came to Australia for their tertiary studies struggled with the way curriculum was taught and assessed…

“They’re used to studying for a test and don’t know how to think creatively whereas our curriculum relies on critical and creative thinking and problem solving.”

There are severe problems with this policy.

First, Australia’s schools are already suffering from chronic overcrowding (e.g. see here and here), therefore, it makes no sense burdening them with additional international students.

Indeed, the Grattan Institute in 2016 estimated that the number of school students would balloon by 650,000 (17%) by 2026, which would require the building of an additional 400 to 750 new schools (up from 9,400 currently). NSW (mostly Sydney) would need an additional 213 schools to cope with an additional 14% of students over the next decade, whereas Victoria (mostly Melbourne) would require an additional 220 schools to cope with an additional 19% of students (see below graphic).

ScreenHunter_11161 Jan. 22 08.29

Where is the additional federal investment in schools and infrastructure to keep up with the international student influx?

Second, education standards will very likely be damaged by having non-English speaking Chinese students littered across Australia’s classrooms, as we have witnessed with universities.

How often will teachers have to pause to explain concepts to Chinese students in the class? And will they be forbidden from teaching Australian values and be forced to pussy-foot around matters related to Taiwan, Tibet, and western values blacklisted in Document No. 9, as we have already witnessed in Australian universities?

Third, the guardians of these students will be permitted to purchase Australian property. Thus, it will place further upward pressure on Australian house prices, reducing affordability.

Is this what Australia has been reduced to: selling-off land, houses and residency to wealthy Chinese while dumbing down our own kids?

[email protected]

Leith van Onselen


  1. literally this makes me so depressed that i have just about given up on australia
    imagine our own government conspiring against its own citizens

    voting for a radical will not fix anything its public policy on both sides to destroy australia

    nothing short of a major offshore pandemic or world war will fix this for our children

    • Snotty Millenial

      When you have over 2 decades of “uninterrupted economic growth” by riding the gravy train of selling overpriced rocks and little else, when that gravy train stops you’re up shit creek and will pull anything out of the bag to keep the good times rolling. The powers that be in this country are totally ok with an economy that is still stuck in the 1980’s so long as it makes the official numbers look good (and their mates happy). Only with a recession and then a stagnation of 5+ years will they probably start on the path of serious reform and a decent plan. Don’t hold your breathe though

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      LOLOLOL. .. just as long as your children aren’t shredded to lumps of meat during said pandemic and world war.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      This stems from a Cultural Idea that there are no Australians, our society is only a collection of people of different cultures living together – it stems from the same Cultural values that values Individualism above Interdependence and stretches back over 4,000 years.

      Culturally the values propagated by this type of thought leadership has exactly the same impact as Termites devouring a house, it eats away at the structures of a society. It is from this cultural value set that Neoliberalism and Multiculturalism has emerged, which places all responsibility for an Individual on the Individual.

      Consequently social institutions like our schools, hospitals and universities either are transformed into profit centres or fail, as the collective sacrifice required to sustain them is removed:

      “Without meaning, people won’t be motivated to solve the other challenges our species faces.”

      This is the end game that progressives are cheering for, because no one wishes to work and sacrifice to help sustain institutions that work to project values and principals into the future that are not culturally aligned with ones own.

      Multiculturalism does not give rise to shared meaning, it simply dissolves all meaning from a society.

      • In SE Asia the flood of mainland Chinese students has begun to overwhelm international schools making many set quotas for the number of Chinese kids taken and to resist their access to government schools – and no one even mentions that this is ‘racists’.

        Predictably a tension has arisen between those who see education as a “business opportunity” and those who want the best for their kids. Once very multicultural societies are being restructured by globalists who are only concerned by the “market” that can be generated, who are set against others trying to maintain cultural values and dilution of their own community identity. Because anyone with half a brain soon realises that you don’t enhance “diversity” by giving 1.3 billion Chinese free access to educational facilities in nations < 4% of the population size. The "diversity" argument used by the ideologically possessed Left soon becomes a way to swap one dominant culture with another – it is a cultural suicide note.

        The difference is that many Asian nations outside of China have long ago seen the dangers in overwhelming communities with too many mainland Chinese students and this it is openly discussed. Only in Australia do people regard this as 'racism' – most sensible people don't have time for such crap when they are seeking to protect their community values.

        This policy in Australia is a form of treason against Australians who value their nation identity and the rationing of state resources key to national and cultural identity for their kids. Schools are institutions build up over hundreds of years that represent a valuable asset that is being marketized and flogged off by the ALP and LNP.

        In doing so, both major parties indicate that money and ideology will triumph over culture and community. The Left and the Right have marched in the same direction for different, yet complimentary, ideological reasons. There is no policy choice on offer as we are being marched down a path to a new hegemony that people will live to regret very soon. This will worsen under the ALP for the reasons you mention as it has a deep and amazingly stupid ideological basis.

        Such a policy is barking mad and must be resisted at all cost. It marks the end to the notion that Australia should look after its domestic cultural and educational opportunities for its own people – who should have say in policies that are social engineering.

        Government has turned against the people.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        “This policy in Australia is a form of treason against Australians who value their nation identity and the rationing of state resources key to national and cultural identity for their kids…. Government has turned against the people.


      • The90kwbeastMEMBER

        Good comment. Your comment does tie in nicely to the (incorrect) assertion being made that “Australia is a nation of migrants.” No, it isn’t, it’s a nation predominately of Australians, of varying degrees of recency.

      • @Clive
        The Chinese are exploiting the liberal immigration policies of AUS, CAN and NZ to colonise the strategic coastal cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Vancouver so as to deny these cities as anchorages and bases for USN operations in the Pacific Ocean. They’ve achieved this in Australia and NZ by exploiting the unregulated student visa program. The Chinese Govt are funding the operation of Chinese owned and managed private colleges that exclusively enrol and employ Chinese, they’re creating a parallel society and these colleges will not only allow China to colonise Australia and NZ by stealth, they will also allow it to create a parallel society that is self-sufficient in all the services for such a society to function.

      • @Stewie, @beast, @jim

        China does not even need to have a strategic goal – it may well be playing the long game, but the numbers are all that anyone needs to focus on. If a Mandarin diaspora with a homeland of > 1.3 billion is given access to amenity and social assets in the name of “diversity” it’s simply crazy. It creates another “class” (cashed up Chinese) to compete in a system that is already failing to deliver adequate outcomes for Australians. Should Australians (of any stripe) be considered first? Absolutely.

        Without a policy of “assimilation” the risks of the integration of a Mandarin sub-culture have to be considered in a cool headed way. Bernie Sanders makes it clear that his Left (socialist) policy is to address the needs of US citizens first. You’d have to be nuts to see this as ‘racist’ rather than a realistic assessment of what a politician is elected to do. In Australia the lunacy of the Left combined with the cargo cult mendicancy of the Right have produced a dangerous cocktail of stupidity.

        Unfortunately we have no sensible middle ground to vote for and no party able to articulate the issues that resonate with middle Australia. I’m sick to death of social engineering undertaken without democratic consultation and the fire sale of Australian amenity to make a few wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

        As Bill Shorten self-destructs over the next 3 years we need to build a proper political movement. Without this more people will head to the far Right and we will become an ever divided country. The duopoly of the LNP and ALP has to be destroyed and something new built in its place at the centre. Both of these parties have betrayed middle and working class Australians and we need to take out our anger on these anti-democratic institutions. Both true “liberals” and the labour movement need to find a new home.

      • @ Clive, you’re either a Globalist or Nationalist, there’s no fence sitting anymore.

  2. Snotty Millenial

    “Is this what Australia has been reduced to: selling-off land, houses and residency to wealthy Chinese?”

    Yes. Is it going to change any time soon? Probably not if Shorten gets in. It will be exponentially increased if Morrison stays in. The FIRE sector has no better friend in scummo

  3. I wonder if the pictures of crappy demountable buildings we now build for the cramification of our state schools were used in the sales brochure? Or the old nice brick places we used to build 100+ years ago? Lol.

    • I also wonder whether in the promotional material they will be using photos of real kids in real Australian classrooms (where, already, a game of spot-the-Anglo-kid is pretty challenging)? Or will they go with stock photos, with mostly white-bread/blond-mop kids with a few token vibrants scattered around the room?

      • Lets see: With Sydney based Chinese the most sought after High school in NSW is James Ruse followed closely by North Sydney Girls, North Sydney Boys not to forget Baulkham Hills high or Hornsby Girls…my point is, exactly how many whites are there in these 5 schools combined…I’d bet there’s not enough to even field a Rugby team….hate to be the one to tell you but Chinese parents aren’t looking for a “white” educational experience, that’s just you engaging in the all Aussie sport of virtue projection.

  4. Literally this just makes me so depressed as well. But it’s not new. It’s well underway in our high schools. The irony of thanking the Chinese government for their capital controls.

  5. They literally summed up the issue with asian (Chinese) students…studying to a script and no lateral/creative thinking. I have a chineese ethnic working for me currently. While she is great on task based jobs, anything that requires any multistep approaches or problem solving results in her literally standing there needing moree direction

  6. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Gawd youse are so racialist! I see absolutely no problen with this. If it boosts my housing investments it’s a great plan.

    • Primary schools are a great place to teach our kids mandarin so that they can entice more wealthy Chinese here.

      Oh, and each class should start and end with the Chinese national anthem.

  7. This is the pits. A choice between an opposition that wants to import foreign elders and a government that wishes to import foreign children, just so we can deprive our own elders, children and taxpayers.

    • I just don’t get it. Even looking at it from a purely economic perspective it makes no sense. In fact it’s economic vandalism. Is it ideology?

      • Bill wants to win 3 Sydney electorates, Scummo wants to please the big end of town with low wages, high houses prices and more customers. The taxpayer is defrauded

  8. Mining BoganMEMBER

    Worker mobility…

    That doesn’t bode well for Australian kiddies. May as well smother them with a pillow while they sleep. It will be a kinder fate.

  9. Ah the irony of having your kid educated in the dumbest country on the planet. The Chinese clearly aren’t Einsteins.

    • No we’d only get their B, C and D grade students. Parents who knew their kids wouldnt make it in the highly competitive Chinese system would send them to us. Better their kid gets an international education with degree than being rejected in China.

  10. This is all true. My wife is a teacher and lives the insanity. Many of the teachers in the 50’s group are leaving and younger ones are being stressed out and leaving. I think in two years more than 40 left. The other aspect is the entrenched bullying and zip support for teachers. Very few male teachers now due to a range of issues.

  11. Yeah Nah Nah.
    There’s lots of room for Education Innovation in Australia but sadly there’s no market for this product.
    In reality the only Primary school / secondary school product that can be sold in Australia is one that teaches the Department of Education’s curriculum and meets their milestones (should read Millstones).
    To understand why this is so we need look no further than the Term’s and Conditions that come attached to every penny that the Federal and State governments pay out for “Education”.
    If you desire Educational Innovation than step one is to break the stranglehold that these bureaucrats have on the process of education.
    Now maybe you think that Australia has already achieved Educational excellence meaning that nobody in their right mind would want to change, but personally I believe we’re on a rather slippery slope heading towards educational irrelevance. Our curriculum is just plain wrong, it’s not teaching what is needed to succeed in the 21st century and as a result we have high levels of education disengagement especially in the latter years of secondary school.
    So how can this change: well one way is through the development of alternate paths (which in today’s system means educational paths not funded by Politicians).
    Examples of change would be schools teaching IB (International Baccalaureate) or schools teaching the Singapore system or for those that think they might be US bound we could even teach the Texas or California education programs. The point about giving people choice is that you’re simultaneously giving them opportunities to out-perform and opportunities to create and map alternate paths to success. Maybe some of these paths suit only super bright kids, and maybe some of these paths are created specifically to induce student engagement (rather than achieve some quantifiable education objective).
    How does this relate to Chinese parents: well they’re paying full price for our second rate education and many would jump at the opportunity to enroll in an education system which keep them more in step with other Asian countries ( reality is nobody knows the future and nobody knows when circumstances might dictate that they return to China, or anywhere else in Asia) for their kids sake they can’t risk returning with second rate skills so they’ll gladly pay and pay and pay. If they believe that the product your offering is superior and meets their objectives than they’ll pay some more. Or put another way, they’ll fund an adventure in Education that’s not controlled by department of Education bureaucrats. These Chinese parents could be the leading lights education reform and could thereby provide Australia with a proven roadmap for a 21st century education….If you ask me it’s worth a shot.

    • The more ‘innovation’ we get in education the higher the bill to the tax payers and the worse our performance in international tests. I am all for less innovating and more teaching.

      • What a curious response: So you care more for what outsiders (PISA) think of our education system than that our education system properly prepares the next generation of Aussies for the world that they’ll inhabit.
        Can’t say that I agree…but I do appreciate the feedback

      • @fisho there is no benefit to Australian education in having non-genuine overseas students here, evident in the numerous mainstream media articles where it has been reported overseas students do not have the English language skills to successfully complete the course they’re enrolled in. Furthermore, tertiary education providers have responded to this by lowering the quality of education so as to create the illusion overseas students are successfully passing the units in their course. As stated by Leith Van Olsen, the overseas student visa program is simply a pathway to permanent residency and from the evidence I have seen, a program which the Chinese Govt can exploit to influence Australian Govt policy.

      • Not wanting an argument but Leith’s certainly not an expert on education, neither am I but it is something that I care about.
        So what if these kids have poor English skills if they’re not attending our Public schools than what does it matter.
        What I’m saying is that this group has education options that are not available to your average Aussie, so lets leverage their ability to pay and desire for a first class education to build some truly remarkable schools, which is something that we can’t do within the ultra restrictive bureaucratic nightmare that is NSW Department of Education.

      • @fisho Leith’s article references this is a Federal Govt initiative and hence the students will be targeted for recruitment to Public Schools where their poor English language skillsand the lack of existing LLN support will lower the quality of education delivered to our children and not to mention the consequences of our demographic replacement.

      • @fisho “What a curious response: So you care more for what outsiders (PISA) think of our education system than that our education system properly prepares the next generation of Aussies for the world that they’ll inhabit.”
        Foreigners are interested in our education system because international tests like PISA prove they get a good education. If our PISA scores keep sinking the Chinese won’t be interested at all. The problem would be solved. But personally I’d prefer good results in international tests and no Chinese or foreign students. Our education system struggles coping with local students. I have very little faith it could cope with an influx of foreigners.

        At least if our education system prepared the next generation for work I’d be OK. However, not many people and fewer employers seem to believe that though. Not in my.circles at least. If you compare HSC tests from say 1980 or 1990 to today the exams are now less rigorous and heading the wrong way.

        All that innovation doesn’t seem to be getting us far.

    • You’ve missed the point entirely, overseas students from China simply arrive here to obtain permanent residency.

      • No I suspect it is you that has completely missed the point.
        Like wtf to I care why these Chinese citizens are here, they have their reasons and obtaining Residency is definitely one of the reasons they’re here but…
        My question is very simply : How can Australian education system benefit from the fact that they are here?

  12. Not to mention the fact that selective schools are now choking with coached ninnies who take the places of the genuinely talented “future of the country” types they were designed for. Ffs

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      The Chinese kids ARE the future of Australia. Eventually there will be more of them here than us, and they will get to vote.

      • exactly, their strategy is to colonise US’ allies in the Pacific Ocean so as to undermine US hegemony in the Pacific Ocean.

  13. Isn’t this just an attempt to prop the housing market back up again? I don’t know if this will work.

    Surely the Chinese have left and aren’t coming back until things start going well again for them back home?

    Also, don’t you love how both Turnbull now Morrison pull these ridiculous policies right before elections – knowing the MSM will not publicise them and introduce a drastic policy that will still help their “mates” even if they lose power.

  14. The popularity of Zombie themed movies/series is just a sublimated analogy for rampant immigration and China has the biggest Zombie Horde of all.

  15. From 2011
    “The principal of Melbourne High School, Jeremy Ludowyke, rejected suggestions that the school was not culturally diverse. “We don’t see a white flight expressed in the pattern of applications to the school,” Mr Ludowyke said.

    About 60 per cent of his pupils have a parent born overseas.

    “Melbourne High and Mac.Rob have played a pivotal role in providing opportunities for newly arrived migrant communities. They’re part of the success story of multiculturalism in Melbourne,” he said.”

  16. Ok then its SAP first, right wing anti-immigrant nutters 2….n, majors 2nd and 3rd last, Greens last.